Since the start of this season, Heroes has been doing a pretty good job of building up the character of Samuel to seem to be something more than a straightforward villain. Unfortunately the reveal in “Brother’s Keeper” that he has some fairly mundane aspirations comes as something of a letdown.
Considerably more satisfying is our first encounter with Samuel’s dead brother, Joseph. After weeks of hearing Samuel talk about him, it is nice to finally get to know him for ourselves. In many ways he proves unremarkable, possessing no abilities and proving much less charismatic than his brother. Yet he has known about his brother’s abilities for nearly forty years and has done his best not only to hide him from the world but also to hide his powers from himself. Up until this point I had wondered if Samuel was attempting to find a way to bring his brother back or avenge him – this episode left me fairly certain that was not the case.
We learn this through the efforts of Mohinder who, after making another one of his ‘remarkable discoveries’ when looking through his father’s old research, had tracked down Samuel at the carnival to ask him some questions. I had been dreading the return of Dr. Suresh largely because of how poorly he was handled in the previous season.
This time however the storyline he is given actually turns out to be pretty interesting because we already know how it will end. Knowing that Mohinder will be killed by Samuel not only gives his storyline a sense of purpose, it also creates a little intrigue. Why was he killed and what is on the film reel that Samuel wants Hiro to procure from him?
I was also struck by the parallel between Mohinder’s actions in this story and his father’s responsibility for creating Sylar. Both have noble, scientific intentions yet each failed to calculate the danger involved in passing on information to potentially unstable individuals.
Speaking of Sylar, this episode seems to reach a conclusion in the possession of Matt Parkman storyline. Unfortunately this involves the writers reviving Parkman in the hospital using Peter’s healing powers, removing much of the impact from last week’s most effective sequence.
To quickly summarize this convoluted plotline: Nathan, who is really Sylar with his personality wiped and replaced with that of Nathan’s, shared his concerns with his brother about blacking out for a week. The Haitian appeared to point them in the direction of the real Nathan’s body. When fake Nathan touched corpse Nathan he saw an image of Matt Parkman. Keen to get some answers fake Nathan and Peter traveled to the hospital where Parkman was being kept alive by machines and revived him. Parkman, under the Sylar personality’s influence, tried to persuade fake Nathan, who unknowingly resides in Sylar’s body, to touch him to transfer the Sylar consciousness back across and into his real body.
I have actually enjoyed much of the banter between Grunberg and Quinto over their last few episodes together but it is a relief to see this storyline draw to its close. The sequences establishing visually who is in control of the body have been an awkward storytelling technique and the two characters have been too isolated from the rest of the action.
It also leaves the series positioned now to give a conclusion for Nathan’s story. Hopefully he will get sent out on a strong note in his next episode.
In its other major story strand, Tracy Strauss mulls over Samuel’s offer to join his carnival. Her thought processes are interrupted however when her freezing powers start acting of their own accord and, fearfully, she decides to head to Noah’s apartment to find him and seek his help. Letting herself in, she is discovered instead by Claire who tries to help her warm herself up and regain control over her power.
It is never really explained why she suddenly loses control over her power, nor why she is able to get her powers back under control at the episode’s end. I may be proven wrong in a subsequent episode but I suspect that it was merely a device to get Tracy and Claire talking.
There are some nice moments in their story though, such as Claire mentioning how she thought she had a friend (in Gretchen) who she thinks she has lost, an amusing sequence involving a foot on the table and the important exchange in which Tracy resolves to seek out Samuel. Although not much happens in terms of progressing the plot it does establish a relationship between the two characters which may be important later if the series picks up on the hints it dropped in earlier episodes that Noah and Tracy are attracted to one another.
I still stand by what I said in my review of last week’s episode – Heroes needs to be prepared to start making some tough decisions. In bringing back Matt Parkman from the dead however they once again showed they were wary of making those sorts of big casting changes.
What does satisfy however is the movement we are now witnessing in several of the key storylines. This episode taught us Samuel’s purpose, appears to have resolved the Sylar body issue and took Nathan one step closer towards sealing his character’s fate. Throw in an entertaining subplot with Claire and Tracy and the result is a solidly entertaining, albeit unremarkable episode.
– Aidan Brack